The institute contains one of the largest and most important collections of American art in the country, as well as works ranging from a dragon tile relief from Babylon's Ishtar Gate to works by Giovanni Belllini, Vincent Van Gogh and other European masters. The most famous work in the collection is the Detroit Industry frescoes by the Mexican Marxist Diego Rivera, who painted them with the support of Edsel Ford and depicted the company's River Rouge plant.
"The D.I.A. and the city of Detroit need our help, and we are here, as we've always been, to do our part," Joseph R. Hinrichs, executive vice president of Ford Motor Company, said at a news conference with museum officials.
Ford and General Motors promised $10 million each, while Chrysler, the smallest of the U.S. carmakers, pledged $6 million.
After Detroit declared bankruptcy, some creditors had suggested selling part or all of the collection to help with city pay its bills. As part of a "grand bargain," the museum promised early this year to raise $100 million.
The arrangement must be approved by a bankruptcy judge, and some creditors have objected that too much of the money -- including $200 million promised by the state of Michigan -- is going to retiree pensions.
Gov. Rick Snyder, who was also at the news conference, appeared optimistic.
"We're accelerating," he said.